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Penn State gets verbal commitment from Maryland defensive end

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 3:42 p.m.

Eleven days after Penn State secured its first verbal commitment for the Class of 2016, the Nittany Lions landed another highly regarded prospect.

Shane Simmons, a junior at DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, Md., and one of the country's top defensive ends as ranked by recruiting services, announced he intends to attend Penn State.

The 6-foot-4, 223-pound Simmons is rated as a four-star prospect by and a five-star prospect by He had more than two dozen scholarship offers, choosing Penn State over finalists Florida State, Alabama, Ohio State and Maryland.

Simmons joins Woodland Hills running back Miles Sanders as early members of PSU's 2016 class.

“Penn State is a great place,” Simmons said in a ceremony at his school that ESPN streamed online. “When I got on campus, it just felt like home. ... It's close to home but far enough away where I can become a man.”

Lions coach James Franklin tweeted his trademark “#WeAre … Better” that signifies a verbal commitment. Five assistants tweeted similarly, including defensive line coach Sean Spencer and running backs coach Charles Huff, who were Simmons' primary recruiters.

Penn State's roster has two DeMatha alumni.

Longtime former PSU defensive line coach Larry Johnson — now with Ohio State — was known for his recruiting in the Maryland-Virginia-Washington, D.C., area. Penn State's nationally ranked 2015 class has five players from there. Simmons mentioned three by name as friends.

Simmons also vowed to join Sanders in recruiting other top prospects to join them in University Park. In particular, DeMatha has three other players Rivals rates as four-star 2016 prospects — Simmons mentioned two and implied he would work to get them to Penn State.

Verbal commitments are nonbinding until a letter of intent is signed during a prospect's senior year of high school.

Note: Former Penn State All-American and NFL linebacker Dan Connor was hired as linebackers coach at Division II West Chester. Connor played for the Nittany Lions from 2004-07 and with three NFL teams before retiring after last season.

Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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